Founded over 1000 years ago, Vietnam’s capital city is rich in history, with the streets of its rambling Old Quarter dating back to the 14th century. Wandering these tree-lined lanes past crumbling colonial facades will transport you back in time. However, today’s Hanoi is about much more than the past. The ancient city is being invigorated with modern cafes, world-class restaurants, and cool art galleries. When the sun goes down, you have your pick of watering holes, from sophisticated rooftop bars to buzzing bia hơi.
Hanoi’s Old Quarter serves up a sensory overload. Wisps of incense drift out onto streets from ancient temples, while the clang of blacksmiths’ hammers mingles with mobile fruit sellers’ call.
The preserved Old Quarter today is the remains of Hanoi’s 36 streets in the past. Visiting this place, you would imagine the culture, socio-economy and people of the old Thang Long Citadel. The most characteristic feature of Hanoi Old Quarter is the craft streets. From craft villages around the ancient Thang Long citadel, Hanoi’s famous craftsmen gathered here and worked together to form traditional craft quarters.
Visitors can walk or jump in a cyclo tour, a very typical Vietnamese-style of travelling, to explore the best of Hanoi local life.
The Hanoians drink a lot of the dark, caffeiniated beverage and prefer sipping their stronger blends outside in front of a small shop with some condensed milk and a spoonful of sugar. Every morning, on hot days of summer and cold days of winter, you can easily see some here with a cup of coffee in one hand and a newspaper in the other.
For many Hanoians, the most important factor of a café is not its luxuriousness but the quality of the product. It is most recommended for visitors to try traditional Vietnamese Black Coffee and Vietnamese Egg Coffee.
Soaking up the rhymths of the street and embracing Hanoi from all of its sides, from old to new ones, and from traditional to modern ones, you will tenderly recognize that, nothing can be better refreshing that a cup of coffee on a street corner near Hoan Kiem Lake.
Vietnamese cuisine varies by region. Each city, even each village, has its own list of unique local specialties. Hanoi is no exception. Many of the popular Vietnamese dishes originated here.
With the cooler northern climate and wide availability of freshwater fish and seafood, the food in Hanoi has its own distinctive flavor. Hanoi, as we discovered, is also famous for its street food culture. Street food stalls are popular and make up for the vast majority of Hanoi food.
Some of the best and most surprising local food experiences in Hanoi are made on the sidewalks with locals and not in restaurants.
Beside Pho, here are some food you must try:
1. Bun Cha – Barcecued Pork with Rice Vermicelli
2. Cha Ca La Vong – Grilled Fish with Dill and Tumeric
3. Banh Cuon – Steamed Rice Rolls
4. Lau – Vietnamese Hot Pot
5. Banh Mi – Vietnamese Sanwich
6. Che – Vietnamese Sweet Soup (Dessert)
7. Nem Cua Be – Crab Spring Rolls
8. Banh Tom – Fried Shrimp Cake
9. Nom Bo – Beef Jurky Salad
10. Banh Bot Loc – Shrimp and Pork Dumplings
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is located in the middle of Ba Dinh Square, where President Ho Chi Minh used to preside over rallies. The address is 2 Hung Vuong, Dien Bien Ward, Ba Dinh District. To get there, you can go by private vehicle or public bus.
In his will, President Ho Chi Minh wanted to be cremated and had his ashes laid in the three regions of the country after his death, but according to the will of the Party and people at that time, the government decided to keep his body intact and placed it in the Mausoleum so that people can come to commemorate and visit him.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is a work of great significance, showing the deep feelings that Vietnamese people have for their leader. Today, it is not only a cultural and historical symbol of Hanoi but also attracts a large number of tourists to visit. Since its inauguration in 1975, many generations of Vietnamese people and millions of foreign visitors have come to this place.
From the end of 19th century, the French colonialists strongly suppressed the fighting movements of the Vietnamese people. They set the court systems, recruited more policemen and built many more prisons to service their ruling administration in Vietnam. In 1986, the French built Hoa Lo Prison on the land, which was a famous pottery village. Hoa Lo was one of the biggest prisons built by the French in Indochina.
Many patriots, revolution leaders of Vietnam, were captured in Hoa Lo Prison, such as: Phan Boi Chau, Luong Van Can, Nguyen Quyen, Ho Tung Mau, Nguyen Luong Bang,…. and five General Secretaries of Vietnam Communist Party: Nguyen Van Cu, Truong Chinh, Le Duan, Nguyen Van Linh and Do Muoi.
In 1993, in order to meet the economic development of Hanoi, the Vietnamese Government retained a part of Hoa Lo to transform into a historical relic.
The Imperial Citadel of Thang Long is an outstanding place of interest not only for the capital city, but also for the country as a whole. The Citadel witnessed a series of dramatic changes throughout the history of Vietnam and braced itself through a number of destructive wars.The most notable part of the Citadel is the Central Sector, which was listed as one of the UNESCO Natural World Heritage Sites in 2010.
The Central Sector of the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long expresses a set of intercultural exchanges with major influences from China in the north and the Champa Kingdom in the South. It’s also historically significant, hosting the center of political powers from the 7th century to the 20th century.
During your Hanoi travel journey, besides enjoying Vietnamese delectable dishes and visiting some well-known tourist attractions, enjoying Hanoi water puppet shows should also be on the top of visitor’s bucket list. This fascinating activity allows tourists to gain greater insight into Vietnamese culture through numerous traditional legends and historical tales.
Around 1,000 years ago, during the time of peace and prosperity when people could freely organize and enjoy their cultural celebrations and traditions, Hanoi water puppet shows were first introduced to the public. Reflecting the rice cultivation civilization, a typical water puppet show in the past used to be performed at rice paddy fields, with performers standing in knee-deep water and controlling puppets on the water’s surface.
The typical themes of Hanoi water puppet shows are about the daily life of Vietnamese farmers (cultivating and catching fish), communal entertainment (swimming contest, dragon dancing), and historical legends.
Located in an area rich in clay, the village has advantage of ingredients to create fine ceramics. Lying besides the Red river, between Thang Long and Pho Hien, two ancient trade centers in the north of Vietnam during 15th-17th century, Bat Trang’s ceramics were favorite products not only in domestic market but also foreign ones.
Vietnamese usually drink beer that is poured into a mug with ice cubes rather than refrigerated beers straight from bottles or cans. When drinking with the locals, they often say “Yo” meaning “Cheers” in English. Local people may pour beer into your mug as an act of hospitality.
The unusual thing about drinking Vietnamese Beers is it is like a feast with delicious food. The most typical food to drink beer with include: shells and snails, salted fish, fried rice and snacks (peanuts, beef jerky, griled dry squid, fried tofu).